National Make-a-Will Month
I read recently that August is National Make-A-Will Month, so I wanted to take this opportunity to explain will and their function to you..
A gallup poll revealed that only about half of all Americans have a will. Making a will is an important part of planning for your family’s future. Before diving too deep into the purpose of a will, let us first talk about the purpose and anatomy of a will.
What is a Will?
A will is a document that states a person’s last wishes. Wills are usually have to be recorded with the County where the testator aka maker of the will passed away. Some states, including California have requirements for what should be included in a will. There are also different types of wills. For example, a handwritten will is called a holographic will. A holographic will is also not witnessed by anyone and are often held to be invalid.
What Makes a Will valid?
California has a set of laws that govern all things surrounding estates, from wills to living trusts to probate after the death of a person. These laws together make up the Probate Code. The Probate Code lists out the requirements for a will to be valid. Some of the requirements are that a will needs to be signed by the testator. It also needs to be witnessed by two adults at the same time who saw the testator sign the will and understand that the document the testator signed in a will. Sections 6110 through 61
13 lay out the requirements of a valid will in detail.
Purpose of Making a Will
When someone passes away in California and has property worth less than One Hundred and Fifty Thousand ($150,000), a will essentially serves as an affidavit. The beneficiaries in the will of a deceased person can usually go through a simplified probate process to gain access to the property in that estate.
If however, the deceased person owns property worth over One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150,000), then the will can be a “pour over will” that pours the smaller contents of a person’s estate into their living trust. Without a living trust an estate greater than $150, 000 may still need to go through probate despite having a will.
A Will and Trust Work Together
In California, when someone owns property worth over the One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150,000) threshold, one of the ways to avoid probate is to create a Revocable Inter Vivos Trust which can hold a person or family’s estate during their lifetime, and can seamlessly pass on the property held within the trust to their beneficiaries afterwards. A will can act alongside a Trust to ensure that the items in a person’s estate that are worth under $150,000 pass through a person’s trust.
This National Make-a-Will Month, I invite you to contact us and set up a free consultation to talk about how a will, and maybe a living trust can help protect your family’s future. We have convenient locations in Long Beach and Irvine. You can reach us at (949) 346-5294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.